Chris Matala  Chris Matala, CMRP    

Director of Supply Chain & Sterile Processing, Island Hospital, Anacortes, WA    

Joined AHRMM in 2010

Chris Matala may be a bit of an adrenaline junkie! He’s definitely someone who likes change and adventure and seeks it in various forms. He has an enthusiasm that infiltrates everything he does, and supply chain activities are no exception.

Chris got involved in AHRMM 8-9 years ago. His boss at the time was very involved in their local professional organization, the Washington State Healthcare Materials Management Association (WSHMMA), and Ray Moore and Kathi Pressley, fellow “WSHMMA-ites” served on the AHRMM Board of Directors (Ray went on to serve as its president in 2011). He attended his first AHRMM annual conference that same year and had a great experience, networking with a multitude of people. Chris decided to get more involved at the national level and served on the Sustainability Task Force and the Annual Conference Education Committee. He continues to be very active in his local chapter (he is President-Elect of WSHMMA) and with AHRMM, currently serving as a member of the Membership Committee. It’s this sense of connectedness and the networking opportunities that keep him coming back to AHRMM.

In his “day job” as Director of Supply Chain & Sterile Processing, Chris is responsible for strategic development, supply, and logistics at Island Hospital in Anacortes, Washington, overseeing purchasing, inventory, contract negotiations, sterile processing, and regulatory compliance. He works closely with hospital administration and the OR director to ensure supply chain strategy is compatible and interwoven throughout this independent hospital with nine clinics attached.

Chris has worked in supply chain for ten years and in his current position for two years. He started out in healthcare in 1989 as a dietician. He soon moved in to management and became a regional director of nutrition services before branching off into supply chain. Chris felt drawn to supply chain because of the cross-over the discipline has with every other department in the hospital, as well as the opportunity to affect the quality of healthcare. “We touch everyone in the facility,” Chris says. “Supply chain impacts the entire system. My department has significant influence on the way we provide healthcare to our community.”

The most challenging aspect of his job is also the thing he likes best: change. The fact that everything in healthcare is constantly changing and it is never the same from one day to next is in some ways the fuel that drives Chris in his job. He finds it difficult to meet customers’ needs consistently when there is constant change, but he thrives off of the energy that is required (and generated) when striving to make people happy. He is bolstered by the knowledge that he and his team are impacting the community in positive ways.

Chris counts himself lucky to have had several mentors in his life, starting with his dad. “My Dad was very wise, very disciplined,” said Chris. “He didn’t rule, but rather shared his own experiences and let me come to my own conclusions and make my own decisions.” Chris attributes his moral character and his spiritual and mental sensibility to his father.

Earlier in his career, when Chris worked as a Director of Nutrition Services in a hospital, he was asked to also oversee the Materials Management Department. A daunting task even in the best of circumstances, Chris found an exceptional mentor in Mike Kelly, their hospital’s COO who had a background in human resources. In addition to being a savvy businessman, Mike had the ability to sit in room filled with angry people and diffuse a situation just by listening. He took time to listen and advise Chris and offered support in several ways. “I am a better listener and communicator because of Mike.”

Chris also considers AHRMM past board member Kathi Pressley and his wife as valued mentors and key influencers. Kathi provides supply chain insight, knowledge, and advice, and has Chris’ utmost respect. Through her example, Kathi provided Chris with a template for the way the he wants to do business. Chris’ wife, in addition to being a wonderful partner, helped him become more nurturing, and coached him in how to be a good parent.

Chris’ most memorable AHRMM experiences are tied to the annual conference – both serving on the annual conference education committee and attending the yearly event. “AHRMM does an incredible job with the conference! I appreciate the ability to interact with peers and business partners, and get relevant information on what’s happening in supply chain, said Chris. “I’ve gotten to meet people from around the country that have done wonderful things in their facilities and impacted healthcare. That has made me a better supply chain professional.”

He also capitalizes on networking opportunities through the AHRMM ListServ, which is Chris’ favorite tool. He finds the ability to post a question and get input right away as a valuable member benefit. He also utilizes and especially appreciates the Knowledge Center, white papers, and Supply Chain Strategies & Solutions, AHRMM’s newsletter.

Chris was very excited when the Cost, Quality, and Outcomes (CQO) Movement came about, noting “When the CQO platform launched it brought us more in line with supply chains outside of healthcare. The challenges inherent in adopting CQO need to be taken on in order to develop the business and take us from what we do now to higher levels of opportunity.”

Chris is an individual with eclectic tastes. He operates under the belief that you need to experience everything you can because life is way too short! He likes extremes (“I enjoy hot summer days and 10 below zero days!”) and hates the status quo. The status quo is boring for adrenaline junkies! He likes to travel, bungee jump (ask him for details if you want to hear a fun story), attend rock concerts, opera, theater, and he loves anything outdoors – especially fishing. In his youth, Chris was a competitive athlete – he even competed in the Olympic trials in 1984 for swimming!

In addition to all these interests, in his free time Chris coaches kids in soccer, basketball, and baseball. “I love to coach kids. It provides them experience and an opportunity to have fun, and imbues them with confidence as they become more skilled.”

There are two quotes that Chris finds particularly stimulating and meaningful. Both seem to coincide with his mindset and modus operandi, perfectly:

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” ~ Anonymous

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change” ~ attributed to Charles Darwin

If Darwin was correct, then surely AHRMM member Chris Matala is a survivor.